‘I’m a Chef, and if You’re Not Putting Hot Sauce in Your Coffee, You’re Missing Out on Major Flavor (and Health Benefits)’

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You don't have to stare at the endless options on a Starbucks menu to know there are a ton of ways to trick out your coffee. Some people like adding a simple dash of cinnamon, which is good for brain health. Others spike it with a stress-reducing adaptogen or beauty-boosting collagen. As for Morgan Osborne, the director of culinary development at Archer Daniels, she reaches for something slightly less expected: hot sauce.

Part of Osborne's job is experimenting (read: playing around) in the kitchen, and the idea of adding hot sauce to coffee was something she cooked up alongside her colleague and fellow chef John Stephanian. "I’m not going to lie. I was very apprehensive to try hot sauce in coffee at first," Osborne says. But at the same time, she had a hunch it could be downright delicious. "The concept of combining decadence and heat in places has been a consistent trend in the food industry, such as Mexican hot chocolate and jalapeño margaritas," she says.

Experts In This Article
  • Morgan Osborne, Morgan Osborne is a chef and the director of culinary development at Archer Daniels,
  • Robin Foroutan, MS, RDN, certified integrative medicine dietitian, nutritionist, and certified holistic health coach. She is also a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Watch the video below for another healthy tricked out coffee idea:

After many hours of experimentation and taste testing, Osborne drilled down a few guidelines that are key to keep in mind when blending hot sauce in coffee. The first step, she says, is choosing the right beans. "I recommend using a light roast, medium roast max, because you don’t want the bitter notes found in darker roasts to overpower the hot sauce," she says.

Osborne also likes incorporating a few other warming ingredients to the mix for a rich, robust flavor. Specifically, she recommends two to three teaspoons of roasted cardamom seeds and a touch of vanilla. "You can either buy cardamom seeds pre-roasted at the store or you can roast them yourself on the stove," she says. Cardamom is also good for gut health, so this step is actually making your morning coffee even more nutritious.

Then comes the hot sauce. "This part is important: you want to make sure you use a non vinegar-based hot sauce. This is because the vinegar is too sharp and it undermines the flavors of the heat that you’re trying to bring your coffee," Osborne says. That means your trusty bottle of Tabasco isn't the best bet here. Instead, she recommends using Sriracha. She also says a little goes a long way, meaning one or two drops is plenty.

So, is hot sauce healthy? As long as the Sriracha or non-vinegar based hot sauce you're using isn't loaded with sugar (yep, it can sneak in there), the addition comes with notable health benefits. For one, registered dietitian Robin Foroutan, RD, says the capsaicin in hot sauce is high in antioxidants, critical for staving off diseases caused by free radicals—unstable molecules that our bodies create in response to the daily stresses of living. And it will most certainly wake you up!

Want to make sure you get it perfect—particularly pre-caffeine? Follow the easy recipe below, step by step:

Coffee beans (enough to make one cup of coffee)
2 to 3 Tsp cardamom seeds
1 tsp vanilla
1 to 2 drops of non-vinegar based hot sauce

1. Add the coffee beans and cardamom seeds to a French press to prepare the coffee. A traditional coffee maker also works great but steeping the coffee will create a stronger and more intense flavor.

2. Once your coffee is brewed, add the vanilla.

3. Add the one to two drops of hot sauce.

"When you take your first sip, the warmth wakes you up and you’ll feel the kick of the heat," Osborne says. "After you get past the initial heat, you taste the complex notes of that smoke and spices in the hot sauce, combined with the roast of your coffee and vanilla or citrus. Talk about a unique way to start your morning!"

Join Well+Good's Cook with Us Facebook group for more healthy food and drink ideas.

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